How to: Create order in the house
Clutter and disorganization are all too familiar to many of us. Many of us crave order in our lives and likewise, in our homes, but find it difficult to get on top of things and get rid of the mess. Eileen Roth, organizing consultant and author of Organizing for Dummies (IDG Books Worldwide, 2001) has a strategy to help you get started! Here, she offers her tips to eliminate clutter and clean up your home.
1 Why do we find it so hard to get (and stay) organized?Many people think organization is an inherited trait; however no DNA study has ever found a gene for being organized! It's a learned skill; it's just that no one ever taught it to you. Yes, some people are more creative than others, so they find it harder to see the logical side of organization. That doesn't mean that they can't do it. It just means that they don't know how to do it.
Staying organized is actually a simple process. Once you establish a place for everything, return whatever you take out to its “home” when you're finished using it. And if you don't do it right away, set aside 30 minutes at the end of each day to put things back where they belong. If you do this every day, and not once a week, you'll find things won't pile up.
Suggestion: Get family members to do this, too. Make a game of cleaning up clutter by setting a timer and seeing how fast it can be done each night. Did you beat last night's time or did it take you longer?
2 Which rooms in the home are the most difficult to organize? Why?
For many people the most difficult room is the basement or the attic because that's where everything that's not being used is thrown. And it often becomes a dump where things just pile up. When it's time to find something, it's somewhere in the pile. Most of those items could be purged. Decide what you use and toss the rest.
Another difficult space to keep organized is the garage. Organization is made easy by adding cabinets and/or shelves along garage walls, but most people don't spend the money to do that. So things get cluttered, hard to find and dusty. Get as much as you can off the floor and wash the garage floor once in awhile.
3 Where is the best place to start dealing with clutter?
The place to start is the place that bothers you the most. Ask yourself the following questions:
- Are you frustrated that you can't find anything in your kitchen?
- Do you have a door that you shut every time someone comes over to hide the mess?
- Do you waste time searching for papers in the office?
- Do you get frustrated trying to find anything in your basement?
- Is your two-car garage so full that no cars are parked in it?
4 How do we know what to hang onto and what to throw out?
You've heard these rules many times:
Use it or lose it.
If you haven't used it or worn it in a year, let it go. You're not using it any more. And don't save it for some day; someday never comes.
In with the new, out with the old.
If you bought a new sweater, donate an old one.
Is the sentiment worth it?
Is the sentimental value not worth the space it takes up? Does it frustrate you to take care of the item? If so, toss it.
5 How often should we go through our belongings and purge?
The best answer to this question is purge as soon as you're done with it. That doesn't mean throw out the fork as soon as you're done eating. When you no longer use it, throw it out or give it away. The next answer is to purge every six months to a year, depending on how disorganized you are. A miserable winter day when you don't want to go outside is a great time to purge. Chances are you can go through your closet once a year, but you might need to go through your papers more often.